Mortal Flesh in a Moral Matrix of Words: The Temporal and the Timeless in Travesties

  • Paul Delaney


Like Jumpers, Travesties bursts onto the stage with a dizzying array of fragments which seems unreal, chaotic, devoid of coherence and impervious to sense. Both plays begin, Stoppard says, with a ‘pig’s breakfast’1 of seemingly random juxtapositions. But if Jumpers opens with a visual montage, Travesties opens with a verbal mélange. Travesties begins with three pairs of interlocutors exchanging such esoteric declamations as ‘Eel ate enormous appletzara’, ‘Hoopsa, boyaboy, hoopsa!’ and ‘Bronski prishol’.2 Not only do the three verbal exchanges have nothing to do with each other, each of the pronouncements is baffling in its own right. In Jumpers we may not know what paunchy gymnasts, a trapeze striptease, a bumbling professor and a stumbling waiter have in common — but there is nothing particularly arcane about each one individually. Whereas Jumpers presents us with the pieces of a visual puzzle which do not interlock to form any coherent picture, the verbal snippets of Travesties not only fail to cohere with each other but each piece of the puzzle seems to defy any attempt to reduce it to rational sense. The untranslated words and seemingly untranslatable syllables first sounded in Travesties confront the audience with what sounds like a towering Babel of confusion.


Material Object Moral Vision Real Thing Political Freedom Social Revolution 
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Copyright information

© Paul Delaney 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Delaney
    • 1
  1. 1.Westmont CollegeSanta BarbaraUSA

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